I was asked by one of my lovely readers and BFFs to write about my thoughts on a particular topic… The new Pope.
You see, I grew up Roman Catholic… Roman Catholic of the Acadian subcontext. I did the whole catechism thing… I was baptized, first communioned, first confessioned and confirmed. Then, some might say, I went astray while others may argue I saw the light. I just like to say I grew up and developed a personal relationship with Jesus and felt that much of the legalism, politics and extreme focus on tradition did not fit in the context or requirements belief in Christ or Christianity as a whole. I stopped attending the Catholic church. I stopped identifying myself as “Catholic” and opted for “Christian.” This was and still is at times a HUGE struggle for me.
Despite that, I do admire Catholicism for its trueness to history and tradition. I do believe people who practice the Catholic faith can believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. I think that some people can miss out on that with all of the focus on Saints and other figureheads like Popes. Just like some people miss out on that by debating doctrinal subtleties, focusing on speaking in tongues as the only marker of being truly saved or wrestling with snakes being a sign of true faith. Sometimes all of the hoopla takes away from Jesus and God who should be the center and I think sometimes that leads people astray, which makes me sad.
My family is still overall very Catholic. And I respect that. Because they believe the important stuff and the other stuff is not and should not be central. I know they think I am odd in some ways. But, everyone is odd in some way. I still feel at home when I go to Mass because of the familiarity. But, I am honest in that I won’t participate in things like praying for the dead or going to confession and such. Those aren’t important to the main message… Jesus.
Because of the tradition I grew up in, my friend wanted to know what I thought about the new Pope.
In simple terms: I don’t care, but it’s cool.
I can elaborate…
One of the biggest things that I find difficult is when people mount people above others and particularly above God. It drives me crazy when people think the world revolves around their awesome pastor or when someone is afraid to tick off the priest. Yes, these are knowledgeable people, but they are not God. And they will never be God or like God. They don’t answer prayers. They can pray on our behalf (aka intercession), but they don’t fix stuff for us. For a lot of the world, the Pope is like a superstar… For some, even a superhero. They worship him. They believe what he says above what the Word of God says. Remember that commandment “thou shalt have nod Gods before me.”? I am pretty sure that included the Pope.
It is a big deal to become a Pope. There are a million requirements including being a man, being a cardinal (which takes a long time and a lot of accomplishment as it is), being able to speak a ton of languages, being an all around good person and then being picked. I get that it is a big deal. I think it is awesome buddy is the new Pope. That is basically like being the president of the Catholic church. Good for him.
I don’t follow many current events, but I couldn’t help but hear about this one. It didn’t mean I was intrigued or interested. I was as uninterested as I generally am. I know much of the world was waiting with baited breath, but to me the most interesting piece was that they actually came to a decision so soon… Usually it takes way longer.
It sounds heartless, but I don’t care because it is just another guy, in just another election of sorts. Kind of like how I really don’t care who the president of Norway is (random selection… I don’t have something against Norway) or about whatever Will and Kate are up to this week. Good for him. Interesting historic moment. But, I can go on with my day.
People say I should care because Catholicism is a big part of the world today. That a new Pope might change things. Both are kind of true, but really, I will believe it when I see it. We all might change things if we make an impact.
From a person who grew up Catholic, I guess I was more interested than some because I learned a bit about how it works growing up. I explained the whole conclave thing to Patrick. How the Pope is pretty much a superstar. How everything is maintained so carefully and selectively there isn’t a whole lot of room for change. He also heard an interview with a professor who confirmed these things. But, beyond a curiosity about what country buddy would be from and what name he would pick, I was quite aware little is likely to be different.
Unless I see change, I don’t really think it will happen. Partly because history repeats itself. Partly because people are resistant. And thus getting a new Pope from a new place doesn’t change things to me. It is the same Catholic church until proven otherwise.
I also must share that it drive me nuts that we pay this much attention to the choosing of a random guy (okay, not random) and how it impacts “the church” and “the world,” but we can’t talk about faith without offending someone and that the news doesn’t address issues that are more local or of more relevance.
Now that I sound like an apathetic jerk, there are some reasons why I think the whole new Pope thing is cool.
Change is good. First of all, other buddy having the balls to retire is awesome. That alone is a huge change from the whole pope until you die thing. Way to actually ensure you have someone who wants to be there and is well enough to do it running the church. Having someone younger can mean changes, even if they are just small and sometimes those changes are beneficial.
I am not saying there will be big changes. The way people move up in the ranks and such is definitely not always by being outside the box. But, there are many good things the Catholic church does and having a fresh person in charge is good. I am sure it will still be bad for women to take birth control, but maybe some more of a push for charity will happen.
I think it is cool things happened so quickly. We get so caught up in this stuff where we can access information. I was impressed at how the thing was handled.
I love that the Catholic church stands firm to tradition. I don’t always agree with their methods, but they stick to their guns despite societal pressures and despite what the world thinks or judges. That takes guts and gumption and strong belief in a system. I find the tradition of picking Popes and the hierarchy odd, but I also find it fascinating that it all works even in this day and age. Patrick heard in one interview with a professor who is a specialist on the subject that the Cardinals really don’t care what the rest of the world thinks of the process or the new Pope. Because that really isn’t what matters at all in the process. I liked that.
It is cool that the new Pope is from Argentina and that he does sound like a really awesome guy having done a bunch of charity work and such. Sometimes, it seems that by the time people get that high up in anything, not just the church, they give up on the little people and focus on things like administration or politics, but according to what I’ve read, he was still going out to the streets and reaching out to people. That makes him a winner in my books.
His new name is Pope Francis I. Way to be unique instead of being the 15th of a generic name. Yes, I am not pro-saint and I don’t get why he can’t keep his real name, but if you are going to have to get a new one, why not pick a unique one!
As I said earlier, it is a big accomplishment to become a Pope. So, even though it really isn’t anything overwhelmingly thrilling to me, I do think it is neat to see this happen.
As a member of the greater Christian community, I believe God is working through the Catholic church and that He can do great things through this new Pope and the changes that are happening. That is exciting!
So, although I am not overly interested in it, I must confess, the whole Pope thing is something I am not a big fan of. However, I have to say, the news is kind of cool and has great potential.
I know not everyone will share my perspective. I would love to hear what you think about the whole new Pope thing! Just please don’t eat my face. And if I offended you, this is just my opinion on an issue the world is talking about coming from a person who has lived on a few sides of the argument. I am not out to be malicious. Just to share and have a conversation.